Autodesk buying Delcam is the biggest news in the CAD, CAM and CAE world since…umm… the CAD, CAM and CAE world existed. Yet, at this late date, 25 days after the announcement, I am amazed how scant has been the coverage of an event of such magnitude.
Wake up, guys!
The #1 CAD company buys the #1 CAM company. Autodesk, who used to irreverently claim to have designed everything God did not (their words, not mine) can now also say they can manufacture it. What was once a fractured CAM industry with several key players but none a 800 lb gorilla, is now changed forever. Autodesk has validated Delcam as the one CAM company to deal with.
A Long Time Coming
CAD Insiders have long amused themselves and irritated CAD executives with the idea of a conjoined CAD/CAM company. Why not buy a CAM company? Why not have a design of a part lead directly to the finished product on a CNC machine, all with 2D, without paper drawings, without data conversion, without one software hand off to another, suffering data loss or extra labor or confusion? What could be more natural?
But every time we suggested it to the CAD executives, we were met with “We already have several solutions with our 3rd party applications.” Sure enough, all mainstream MCAD vendors, Autodesk and SolidWorks especially, had all of the major CAM vendors as partners. After years of listening to this, we actually were convinced that CAD vendors were best served allowing every CAM vendor equal access. A CAD company buying a CAM company would just upset the apple cart.
It Had to Be Carl
A source in Autodesk says this deal was 2 years in the making. It is the 2nd biggest acquisition Autodesk has ever made (2nd only to Discreet).
Unverified as it may be, it would be hard to convince me that a major CAM acquisition was any thing less than a Carl Bass mandate. The Autodesk CEO has overstated his belief that design is only one part of the process. A furniture designer by hobby and a self-professed “maker,” Carl cannot be satisfied in leaving a concept in electrons. No, it must be something one can produce, to feel, to hold in one’s hands.
Already a market leader in CAD, Autodesk is now a total CAD, CAM and CAE company. Its $500M in CAE companies and technology acquisitions over the last couple of years have bought it some measure of credibility in the CAE world. Buying a market leader in CAM give Autodesk instant credibility as a CAM leader. Add to this Autodesk’s moves into cloud technology, PLM, a variety of far-reaching and exciting innovations out of Autodesk Labs, and you have the stage for an unbeatable force in the CAD, CAM and CAE world.